Shutdown Roundup: GoFundMe for Feds, Weather Forecasts Suffer and Less Filet-o-Fish

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The partial government shutdown affecting hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors is in its third week and may become the longest shutdown in American history. Negotiations are ongoing, but an end does not appear to be imminent.

At GovExec, we can't report on all aspects of the shutdown. Here is a roundup of a few story lines about the shutdown from reporting in other news outlets.

While feds work without paychecks or are shut out of working at all, Newsweek reports that dozens of public servants have set up GoFundMe pages to help pay their expenses. One spouse of a federal law enforcement officer with a goal of $5,000 wrote: "We still don’t know when it’ll open up and things will get right and as the wife and mom I can’t help but worry about how long will this take." A Virginia-based fed set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $1,850 for rent, stating: "All donations will be paid back to the donors once I am back at work and may take time to repay." Read more on the accounts at Newsweek and see some of the GoFundMe pages on GoFundMe.com.

Bureau of Prison workers are among those furloughed and NBC News spoke to some who were angry about holiday meals being served to inmates while the feds serving them worked without pay. The Bureau of Prisons said in a statement that the holiday menu is "planned weeks in advance, including as happened here in advance of the government shutdown." One Bureau of Prisons employee and union official told NBC News, "They are getting a lavish meal and we are working the holidays away from our families wondering if we can pay the rent or make it home." Read more on NBC News.

The National Weather Service is among the agencies with unpaid staff and furloughed workers and, according to The Washington Post, this is making the NWS forecasts worse. According to the report, the accuracy scores of the forecasts are going down because of data issues and a lack of staff to adjust to a failing forecasting model, the Global Forecast System. “Once the GFS scores start to go bad, it impacts everything,” a union steward at the Environmental Modeling Center in College Park, Md., told the Post. In addition, winter is the season for evaluation and analysis of previous hurricane systems to predict future hurricane seasons and improve hurricane modeling. Eric Blake, the Weather Service union steward at the National Hurricane Center, told the paper that the agency uses the data "to push forward," but “almost none of that is happening” because of the shutdown. Read more at The Washington Post.

Another effect of the shutdown will be a lighter fish harvest in Alaska. Bering Sea fisheries began work as scheduled on Jan. 1, but with the caveat that much necessary regulatory oversight is being delayed or shuttered. According to Alaska Public Media, feds performing inspections, permitting and other regulatory actions for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service are furloughed. The harvest is "valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and Bering Sea pollock is used in mass market products like fish sticks and McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches," the media outlet said. APM spoke to one fishing executive, who called the shutdown "infuriating" and added: “These are just guys that have done a ton of work and are sitting there ready to go, and are being prevented by a bunch of politicians.” Read more on Alaska Public Media.

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